- Can Molefhi pull the Masisi stunt, as he joins the race late - Challenges Tsogwane, now established within Tsholetsa - I want to consolidate BDP towards the 2024 elections - Molefhi - Masisi yet to declare his preferred candidate for chairmanship
Former Cabinet member and MP for Selibe-Phikwe East Nonofo Molefhi, has returned to the Botswana Democratic Party political battlefield.
Molefhi seems impervious to the wise counsel, ‘ once bitten, twice shy’ as he is making another bid for the party’s chairmanship position, which almost ruined his political future some years ago!
His message is simple, ‘consolidation ahead of 2024’. Here is a man who comes to the picture only a few weeks if not a month and a half to the party’s unprecedented elective congress where the party meets amidst fragmentation to elect a new leadership for the central committee.
Molefhi has confirmed his availability to challenge current chairman and vice president Slumber Tsogwane, but the big question is the timing, considering that he will be going head-to-head with a person who is said to have assumed the responsibilities of the party’s secretariat, following the disposition of the current Secretary General, Mpho Balopi.
The BDP is a polarised party which in the build-up to its various elective congresses including the National Council and the National Elective Congress has seen less participation of the Secretary General as head of the secretariat.
This is after the alleged ugly fallout with President Mokgweetsi Masisi, with whom they were known to be ride or die buddies ahead of the 2019 general election. Balopi is among the democrats who played a pivotal role in ensuring Masisi who came late to the race for chairmanship in Mmadinare in 2015 won the seat and went ahead to successfully defend it in Tonota in 2017.
The question that arises is whether Molefhi too can pull the political stunt that was pulled by Masisi in 2015, as he comes to the race at a late stage?
Molefhi is viewed by many as a unifier. This according to many could be a chance for Molefhi to unite the party which has been torn between the president and his second in command against head of the secretariat, Balopi.
The current trends of leadership voting or selection in party structures and recently, councils is said to be sending a strong message against the leadership style of the president and his second in command.
Molefhi and Tsogwane will need the support of the councillors and MPs apart from delegates. Botswana Guardian has established that the disagreements between Tsogwane and the BDP backbench and some of the councillors might pose a challenge for him going into the August congress.
There is also currently an issue of congresses for various structures from the cell, ward, branch and regional level some of which are said to have been aligned with the president or the secretary general.
According to information gathered by this publication, Balopi’s name is likely to be called from the floor of the congress for the secretary general position, while others prefer the former minister and MP for Lobatse Dr. Thapelo Matsheka.
Sources have however, revealed that Dr. Matsheka lost interest for contesting any central committee position as he deems the whole thing ‘too noisy’ for him.
It is a known fact that the BDP backbench is not comfortable with Tsogwane on grounds that he does not represent their ambitions to the president whenever they express a query.
They also believe that he could be having a hand in supporting those who want to challenge them ahead of the 2024 general election - something which the party leadership has refuted on many occasions.
Balopi has mentioned on various platforms that he would not be contesting for any position in the BDP Central Committee. To date the real cause for Balopi and Masisi’s fallout is yet to be established.
This publication can however reveal that those who have been behind Balopi will be rallying behind Molefhi and his yet to be announced Secretary General candidate, and the rest of his team.
According to insiders, Molefhi might be a perfect match to stabilise the party which finds itself entangled in internal fights at a critical time of overhauling its electoral system.
The tie according to the BDP members might be broken by the president by revealing his preferred candidate which might happen during the national Council. It is yet to be seen if Masisi will publicly declare who he supports.
This is a critical moment for the BDP as historically the Chairman will become the Vice President of the party if it wins the national elections. If Molefhi wins the position it means once he wins a parliamentary seat he is likely to be poised for the vice president position and automatically the president seat when Masisi vacates office at the end of his term.
This could also be Masisi’s challenge for choice as he has believed in Tsogwane’s leadership style. President Masisi has revealed that he would be overseeing the overhauling process with Tsogwane but there are those who believe the Boteti West legislator is already conflicted in the matter.
Bulela-Ditswe which has been a problem to the BDP posed a major threat ahead of the 2019 general election as the party revealed then that their system has been hacked forcing the party to postpone primaries for BDP-held constituencies pending investigations.
Molefhi has confirmed to Botswana Guardian that he is running for the Chairmanship. He said his plans are to consolidate the BDP into the 2024 general election. According to Molefhi, he wants to see the BDP more united and more prepared to win the 2024 general election with convincing numbers.
The former minster wants to see active and vibrant BDP structures that will ensure the BDP message reaches all and is appreciated by all with the aim of increasing the BDP membership base and improving Batswana’s confidence and trust in the ruling party.
Molefhi told this publication that he is open to any democrats who believe in his cause and want to see the BDP prosper going forward to be part of his team. He said currently he does not have a lobby team but will welcome all those who want to work with him.
He revealed that currently he is discussing the matter internally with fellow democrats under stipulated laid down rules of engagement and campaigns.
Balopi on the other hand would not be drawn into discussing the matter. Dr. Matsheka has refuted any association of him being interested in any of the party central committee positions. He said he is not running for any position in the party.
Molefhi failed to represent the BDP in the 2019 national polls when in August 2018 during the BDP Selibe-Phikwe East primaries Amogelang Mojuta won with 1 307 votes against Molefhi (then incumbent) with 1136 votes.
In 2017, the then Vice President Masisi garnered 769 votes, successfully defending his position against the then housing and infrastructure minister Molefhi who managed only 261 votes in an election held at the 37th national congress for the BDP at Tonota village.
At the time Masisi enjoyed support of then President Ian Khama who announced his support for Masisi during the BDP National Council at Travel Lodge in Gaborone.
Masisi automatically succeeded Khama when he stepped down in March 2018. His re-endorsement was important as it showed that Masisi had a reasonable chance of pulling the party together after Khama left office.